Sri Vasudev Gaudiya Math, London
The history of Gaudiya Mission – London – The Gaudiya Mission is a movement for disseminating Gaudiya Vaishnavism, that is, Sri Chaitanya’s teachings of pure love of God, founded by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad in 1918 in Kolkata, India. These teachings originated in Bengal, India, but Prabhupad’s vision was to spread them not only throughout India but throughout the whole world, as he was convinced of their value for all of humankind. Prabhupada spent his whole life (1874-1937) pursuing this task, in which he was assisted by many qualified students in establishing 66 maths and preaching centers around the world. In April 1933, Prabhupada sent three of these students to the West: Swami Bhakti Hridoy Bon Maharaj (1901-1982), Swami Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaj
(1877-1954), and Sri Sambidananda Dasa (1904-1983).
These three intrepid pioneers founded the Gaudiya Mission – London society with the Marquess of Zetland as its first president. A temporary headquarters was set up at Greyton Garden, Kensington, London, before moving to Gloucester House in nearby Cornwall Gardens. Several educated English adopted the philosophy as illustrated by the saints from 1934 onwards. Swami Bon met King George V on July 20, 1933, and he and Swami Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaj lectured extensively, securing the goodwill of many of the leading British politicians, intellectuals, and religionists of the time, such as Viscount Halifax (who had been viceroy of India just a few years earlier) and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
After the return of Swami Bon and Swami Tirtha to India in 1936, A.B. Bhaktisaranga Goswami Maharaj (1888-1964) took over as the head preacher, also meeting the King (George VI) and lecturing at the World Congress of Faiths in Oxford. As Bhaktisaranga Goswami also miraculously found an image of Vasudev Vishnu under a tree in Queens Club Gardens, the center in London was given the name Vasudev Gaudiya Math. When he returned to India in September 1937, he passed on the post as secretary of the Vasudev GaudiyaMath, London, to Vinode Vani Dasi.
Born Daisy Cecilia Bowtell (1887-1981), Vinode Vani Dasi was one of the first Western to follow the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the faith of Sri Chaitanya that the Gaudiya Mission teaches. She was initiated into the trust in 1937 and dedicated her whole life, including her home, to the mission, which first moved to her rented flat at 46 Christ Church Avenue, Brondesbury, and in April 1961, permanently, to 27 Cranhurst Road, Cricklewood.
Vinode Vani Dasi never had the opportunity to visit India, but she kept in constant correspondence with her co-religionists in Bengal. She studied the sacred scriptures of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and engaged in spiritual practices together with her friend Stella Harris (VishnupriyaDasi) and others to whom she circulated the teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. When she passed away in 1981, according to her will, her house was given to the Gaudiya Mission. The same year, Kamalaksha Das Brahmachari (later to become Swami Bhakti Suhrid Parivrajak Maharaj) arrived from India, and under his able leadership, Vasudev Gaudiya Math was renovated and registered as “a place of worship with monks in residence”.
Gaudiya Mission – London:
In 1987, His Devine Grace Swami Bhakti Srirup Bhagavat Goswami Maharaj (1906-1993), the then head of the Gaudiya Mission, visited this Math center. He gave many lectures all over London, initiated selected spiritual seekers into the tradition, and also consecrated the beautiful images of Lord Caitanya and Sri Radha-Krishna that today grace the altar of Vasudev Gaudiya Math.
That momentous visit, the first ever of a leader of the Gaudiya Mission to the West, has been followed by many more by later leaders. The present head, Swami Bhakti Sundar Sannyasi Maharaj, visits the Vasudev Gaudiya Math annually. The resident monks maintain the daily worship at the temple and serve the Gaudiya Vaishnava community in North London so that the Vasudev Gaudiya Math(Gaudiya Mission, UK.) remains a beacon of light in our troubled times.
“To sing the glories of the saints,
The only means to get rid of all Miseries”
Dear citizens of England,
The path of universal Love-Peace-Harmony is taught to us in a most simplified form by Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu about 550 years ago. Following His tenets, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupad, the great saint and pioneer of the world Hare Krishna movement, took a mission to enlighten man with this great philosophy and established his first Gaudiya Math in Bengal, India. He carried out a vision all over India and sent his messenger to London in 1933.
In London, the messengers were highly accepted to hear the loving messages of Srila Prabhupad. A math center was immediately arranged for and several educated citizens attended regularly to hear the gospels of Srila Prabhupad through his messengers.
Gaudiya Mission Society in London was declared in 1934 and was highly welcomed by all sectors of people. Also, his vision and mission to carry the message of Lord Chaitanya to every doorstep have seen success to an extent. People today understand the philosophy of Love and Brotherhood. The mission in London started celebrating the birth anniversary of this Devine Master in the year 1934. The record shows that amongst huge gatherings The Devine Master was offered respect by singing his immortal glories at several halls of London.
This trend continued these days and we have reached the eve to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of His Devine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupad, under the August guidance of Srila Bakti Sundar Sanyasi Maharaj, the present Acharya of Gaudiya Mission. The year 2024 earmarks the 150th anniversary year. Gaudiya Mission in the UK wants to have a grand celebration then.
We beg you to come with us with any means, be it men, money, and support, and help us to awaken society to repay His debt by singing His glories grandly.
It is to note that already a three-year-long celebration program of the 150th Advent Anniversary, has been taken up by Gaudiya Mission as Inaugurated at Puri, of Odisha, by the hands of His Excellency the President of India on 20th February 2022 and is continued at several states of India where the program was celebrated in the presence of Governors, Chief Ministers and high officials of the states since then.